Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the best-laid plans

Today is the start of NaBloPoMo, the month-long challenge to post to one's blog every day. I've signed up to do both NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo this month, which might strike some as a bit foolhardy, but here we go ...

This is not the post I intended to write today.

I thought I had everything all planned out; I was going to write a review of a picture book my kids have been loving lately. A nice, upbeat, non-confrontational start to a month of daily blogging (and not too much to contemplate on the first day of Nanowrimo, either).

I put myself to bed as early as I could after Halloween excitement had died down for my children, and the door knocking had stopped. By 10pm, I was deeply and dreamlessly asleep. I had a plan - I would sleep until the toddler woke me, around 6am usually, I would read to her, make breakfasts, play card games with the elder two, then around 8am I'd switch on the TV for them for an hour and I'd write my review. I already knew what I wanted to say, so it'd be quick, easy, leaving me plenty of time to move onto Nano.

This is what I thought. The universe did not, however, agree.

I was awoken sharply at 2:30am from a terrible dream that one of my children was sobbing inconsolably and I could not reach them to soothe them. Forcing open grainy eyes, I found my 6 year old by my bedside, tears running down her face.

"Honey, what's wrong?" I mumbled, drawing her closer to cuddle her.

"It's my ankle!" she wailed, fresh sobs exploding between the words. "It hurts so much!"

In my confused, dragged-up-from-the-deeps state, the first thought in my mind was, She's twisted it somehow with all the trick or treating shenanigans last night. Poor little duck.

My second thought was much less admirable. This is GREAT, I muttered in my head. It'll take me ages to get her back to sleep, and longer again for me. My writing plans for tomorrow - today - are stuffed now. I won't have the energy.

And I gave an exasperated sigh.

She heard, and felt the shift in my overheated body (I always sleep too warm). New tears started. "I'm sorry, Mum..." she whispered. "It just hurts a lot." Then, playing her fingers across my forehead, "Can I sleep in here for the rest of the night?"

This is the point at which I should have realised that I was behaving, and reacting, both selfishly and unreasonably. Instead, I said crossly, "I can't get any proper sleep with you and your Dad in the bed! You need to go back to your own bed!"

She just looked at me, her eyes stricken, and turned to limp away. And my heart turned over.

"Wait, E, love," I called, bringing her back to the bed. "I'm sorry, yes, you can sleep here. I'll stay til you're settled, then I'll go to the spare bed, OK?"

"OK," she agreed, nestling up to her Dad's warm back.

So I went and I got her some Panadol and an icepack. I sat beside her, stroking her forehead, until she went back to sleep. I took myself off to the toddler's room and crawled into the cold spare bed there, shivering, lying awake for a long age until sleep finally came around 5am.

This morning I am tired, grainy-eyed and headachey. I don't think I'll be able to push through my hoped-for 2,000 words on day 1 of Nano. E, and toddler C, are clingy this morning, and the 20 minutes it's taken to write this post have been composed of 5-minute intervals, slips and gaps of time between one need and the next.

Sometimes it feels suffocating, motherhood.

Sometimes the quality of infinite interruptibility, the depth and width of need, feels like more than I can bear.

Sometimes I resent that I cannot, cannot, plan anything for myself with certainty or even probability, whether it be a meal out or a writing challenge or even a haircut.

Sometimes I feel like this.

The only way I have found to alleviate these feelings and to get back to responsive parenting is to do three things:

to give myself permission to feel aggrieved (temporarily), and to not feel guilt about it.

to remind myself that life is unpredictable for everyone, and that I knew when I had children that adding more people to the circle of love simply multiplied the uncertainty by several orders of magnitude.

to let it go; to toss aside plans and expectations and simply swim in the current the day brings, allowing myself to just be where I am rather than necessarily having to deliver a schedule.

Having my three children has been the greatest learning experience of my life. Being a parent has made me grow in ways that I never knew I could. It's at their small hands that I've learned the hard lesson of letting go.

And that's what I'm being reminded of again, today, on this first day of November.

This post is part of NaBloPoMo. 1 down, 29 to go!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry you didn't get to do everything you wanted, but at least you got this post in! I feel your frustration and you're right...we can't plan anything. So fingers crossed for the rest of November! I'm participating in NaBloPoMo too... I love your little countdown at the end of the post :)